|Choi Hye-jin plays a shot on the first hole during the NH Investment & Securities Ladies Championship at Suwon Country Club in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, Sunday. Choi won the championship, which is the sixth KLPGA title of her career. Yonhap|
By Kim Jeong-kyoo
Choi Hye-jin won the NH Investment & Securities Ladies Championship at the 6,559-yard Suwon Country Club in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, Sunday.
The self-assured Choi fired a seven-under 65 for an overall score of 15-under 201 to cruise to a comfortable victory. She took the initiative from the start, leading runner-up Jang Ha-na by three strokes. The win was her second Korea LPGA Tour title of 2019 and the sixth of her career.
Unlike two weeks ago, the 19-year-old Choi did not strain in the slightest to notch the victory. She had great rounds of 69-67-65 for a wire-to-wire victory. It was the lowest 54-hole score of the Korea LPGA Tour.
"I feel deliriously happy as I could notch another triumph in a row," the 12th champion of the event said in a televised interview. "My supreme goal is to rank first in the scoring average."
Entering the final round, Choi at eight-under was sharing the lead with Jang and Lee Jung-min. Choi had a single stroke advantage over Kim Hyo-joo and two others.
Choi made three straight birdies on the third, fourth and fifth holes, which set the tone for her final day. After adding another birdie on the eighth, she reeled in a back-to-back birdie on the ninth. She collected five birdies to close her front nine at 13-under, leading the field dominantly at the halfway point of the event.
Kim, playing a group ahead of Choi, was her closest rival trailing behind her by three strokes. Jang stayed in the hunt for the title. She was four shots adrift of Choi at the turn.
The battle looked like it turned into a duel between Choi and Kim when the final group was playing in the 10th hole.
Still, the audience could easily predict Choi would clinch such an effortless victory. The battle did not look like it could dramatically enter a new phase. No contestants were shaving off enough strokes to pull up even with Choi. Even Kim, three shots shy of Choi, had difficulty getting intoposition to reduce her deficit.
Choi added her sixth birdie on the 11th to lead the field by four strokes. Now, she was standing a safe distance from her rivals. She looked set to win the crown unless an extraordinary incident happened.
Impressively enough, shemade another birdie from a long range on the 12th to soar high like a golden eagle with a five-stroke advantage.
After a long train of six pars, Choi ended at a bogey-free seven-under 65 for her victory. She had skipped last week's competition.
Jangmade a nervy start with a bogey on the second hole. But she birdied the fifth to bounceback. With her second birdie of the day on the eighth, she started to trail behind Choi by four strokes.
Collecting her back-to-back birdie on the 14th, she found herself three shots behind the leader with four holes to play. The precious birdie kindled her tiny hope for the crown.
However, she had a bogey thrust on her on the 15thand all but blew her chance to pull within striking distance. Despite her long birdie on the 17th, she was too late to catch Choi. She hit a four-under 68 and had to settle for second place.
Kim made the turn at nine-under, two strokes shy of Choi. On the ninth, she hit a great approach near the hole, setting up a chance for a birdie. With the birdie she made the turn at 10-under, two strokes behind Choi, who birdied the eighth.
She bogeyed the 12th to drop down to share fourth place with Heo Yoon-kyung at 9-under. However, she bounced back on the spot on the par-3 13th. After reeling in a birdie on the penultimate hole, she finished at a four-under 68 for an aggregate score of 11-under 205, four shots shy of Choi. She took sole third place.
Defending champion InJu-yeon missed the cut.